Sedentary behavior relates to mental distress of pregnant women differently across trimesters: An observational study in China


Background: The independent effect of sedentary behavior (SB) on maternal mental health is still unclear. The purpose of this study was to examine the different relationships of SB with maternal distress in pregnant women across the three trimesters, controlling for the confounding factors including physical activity (PA), diet and gestational weight gain. Methods: Survey data were collected from 1272 participants in different trimesters of pregnancy. The data were divided into three data sets based on trimester, and regression analysis was conducted on each data set. Both the linear and quadratic relationships between SB and mental distress were estimated. Results: There was no significant association between SB and any mental distress symptoms in the first trimester. In the second trimester, SB was positively associated with higher mental overall distress symptoms (β=0.34, P < 0.001), including depress and anxiety. There is an inverted-U shaped curvilinear relationship between SB and mental distress in the third trimester, as SB-squared is significantly associated with mental overall distress (GSI: β=-0.65, P = 0.002, depression: β=-0.53, P = 0.014, anxiety: β=-0.46, P = 0.031). Limitations: The data were collected from only one city in China, which may limit the generalizability of the findings for all Chinese women. This was an observational study and causality cannot be established. Conclusion: This study found that the relationship between SB and maternal mental distress depends on trimesters. The stage of pregnancy should be considered when designing interventions for pregnant women to change SB to reduce mental distress.

Publication Title

Journal of Affective Disorders